Our View: Hate shouldn’t be tolerated in 2018

Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, black supremacists, anti-LGBTQ, the KKK, anti-Muslim groups. Now more than ever hate groups such as these are starting to become more prevalent in our society. Records of hate crimes are being broken every year. While the First Amendment protects the rights of these groups, one has to question where the line is drawn between what is freedom of speech and what is derogatory hate.

We, as a staff of journalists, know just how important the First Amendment of the Constitution is. It protects the freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition. Every American has the right to their own opinions and are able to express them. But when people start getting hurt, and even killed, because of an opinion of an individual or group, that’s when it becomes a crime.

Hate crimes were on the rise in 2017. CNN states that the number of hate groups has risen to 917 since 2014, a 17 percent increase since the beginning of the 2016 presidential campaign.

According to NBC News, in 2017 at least 18 out of 34 extremist-related deaths in the United States  were caused by white supremacist hate groups. Compare this to 2016 statistics where white supremacist groups were responsible for nine deaths.

The number of Islamophobic groups has tripled within the last year. The Southern Poverty Law Center analyzed the increase from 35 of these groups in 2015 to 101 in 2017. Ku Klux Klan members fell from 190 groups to 130 in the past few years, but they are still a prevalent group throughout the United States.

All American citizens are protected by the Constitution to free speech and peaceful assembly. However, all words and speeches do not fall under that category. For example: we do not have the right, through freedom of speech, to create a rally. If words in a “peaceful” assembly can trigger one member to do something harmful, the words are no longer protected by the Constitution.

Therefore, the umbrella of hate groups cannot use the First Amendment to their advantage as a “constitutional right” because they have no right to cause harm to other people – which they do through their words. With that logic, hate groups are really unconstitutional in themselves and should not be able to exist.

We have an opportunity in 2018 to decrease these staggering statistics. There’s no reason that people who have differing opinions have to instill terror in and/or kill other people to establish power. There is such a thing as agreeing to disagree. The fact that there are people currently in power in the United States who are inciting hate is just more reason for us to oppose it.

Must we forget that every U.S. citizen came to America as an immigrant? America is deemed a “melting pot” for a reason. Our culture is rich with different religious and political beliefs, not to mention ethnicities, sexual orientations and gender identities. Every individual is so different, yet we all identify as Americans. If other people don’t believe in what traits an individual represents, their opinion is valid. However, a line is crossed when people are killed because of the color of their skin or what religion they practice.

Hate groups should not be tolerated. The amount of violence that is occuring on their behalf shouldn’t be a reality. The more people willing to speak out against these intolerable acts, the better.  Americans need to join together and learn that differences are OK, opinions can be tolerated without the need to agree to them and that all humans deserve to live their life to the fullest. 2018 shouldn’t be remembered as a year in hate, but rather, a year for acceptance.

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